St. Rita apartments transformed into housing for homeless, vets

Image 1 of 6

Can affordable housing be high-end? The city of Detroit says the answer is yes.

"This is going to be a big spark for the community north end," said Rev. Jim Holley, Historic Little Rock Baptist Church.

The historic Saint Rita Apartments built in the 1900s received a $7.2-million facelift. It's a joint venture of Central City Integrated Health and other partners.

"One hundred years after creation it's back, bigger and better than ever and for those who are most in need," said Maureen Stapelton, Central City Integrated Health.

The city calls this initiative "Permanent Supportive Housing for Homeless and Military Veterans" where rent is made affordable through state and federal funding. 

"Let's get the homeless, move them into a center where they have their own key," Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said. "You got your own place. There are addiction counselors and mental health support on site."

A ribbon cutting was held Wednesday to celebrate the building's grand opening.

For Mark one of the new tenants, it is a celebration of freedom.  

"I'm just blessed," he said. "I am so happy. I don't have to depend on anyone anymore.  I've got my own place."

But this won't be the only high end housing for low income residents in the city of Detroit.

"I want to tell everyone that we are doing something that I don't know if anyone else in the city is doing," said Ryan Lepper, Central City Integrated Health. "Reverse gentrification."

A project is in the works for Midtown near Little Caesars Arena where some argue the rents have skyrocketed recently. 

"We're actually going to redo these 70 units in a higher-end fashion like you see here," said Lepper. "We are not going to tell the people to leave, we are going to invite them back into their units."